Idea generation techniques


New Member
Hello all.

I'm to give a lecture as part of my university course on ways of creating ideas for graphic design.

I was just wondering if anyone used any "formal" creative thinking techniques?

I personally use the random word technique, where you take a book, flick through it. Chose the first word you see and come up with concepts for your brief around this word.

I know of formal mind-mapping, and Edward de Bono's six hat method, but wondered if any others are effective or worth discussing.

How would you apply your random word technique to an actual client brief, for example, branding a company? I honestly can't think of a time when I've used any of the wacky idea generation techniques they tried to teach me in design school. In the industry you just don't have the time (unless you're happy working for next to nothing :icon_biggrin:)

My idea generation tends to follow a logical process, mainly because I do a lot of UX design, where something working in a particular way is important for the user (an element that looks like a button for example, should work like a button) and creative solutions come from the restrictions of the brief and the use of the technology available.

As an example I'm currently working on some online survey designs that allow a user to answer questions in a number of ways and adapting or completely rethinking them for mobile and touch devices. So I would tend to look at a response type, for example, how a user might be able to sort a list of items on a mobile screen, then I look at the issues (restricted screen space, touch/swipe functionality only) and come up with ways the user might be able to pick up and move an item and place it somewhere else. I'll then think in depth about issues or problems with each option and if needs be wireframe that option in order to visualise it better.

It's not something I was taught at uni (they seem to skip a lot of real-world skills on some courses) and is really just an approach that's born out of necessity. UX design is a bit like typography, it's only when it's designed badly that you notice it. By trying to overcome the issues you face whilst still working within the restrictions of the brief/format, you can come up with creative solutions quite naturally.